Community and GHS Staff Honorees
Jack Mashin - Beloved GHS Coach and P.E. Teacher 1923-1960
“The Fox of the Foothills”
While Jack Mashin was a legendary coach, it was his philosophy of education and of life that endeared him to all who knew him.
In the 1925 El Recuerdo, Coach Mashin reveals his lifelong philosophy of coaching: “The greatest honors that athletes can bestow upon their institution are not in victories alone but in how modest they were in victory and how honorably and valiantly they fought in defeat.” During his years at Grossmont, his athletes won 7 league football championships, 34 league and tournament basketball championships, 3 league baseball championships, and 86 track and field event titles. Jack was admired by all and considered the Dean of Coaches in SD County. Not surprisingly, in 1966, Coach Mashin was inducted in the California Coaches Hall of Fame.
Yet Jack valued each student’s achievements: the 1954 El Recuerdo’s dedication to him acknowledges that “his greatest contribution to Grossmont is his natural ability to reach the average student, fostering in each one an awareness of self-confidence and strength.” He urged all students to be “second to none”.
Both Jack and his wife Virginia were passionate about the value of education. Upon their deaths, they left more than $2 million dollars to philanthropic causes, most to endow college scholarships.
Colonel Ed Fletcher - Grossmont High School Benefactor
Colonel Ed Fletcher donated the land upon which Grossmont stands. Appropriately, the school’s 1922 cornerstone is inscribed with these words: “The school grounds are the gift of Col Ed Fletcher.’” Also, the granite to build the new building was a gift from his nearby granite quarry. The 1923 El Recuerdo dedication to him acknowledges his generosity: “…in sincere appreciation to one whose most generous gift helped to make possible our new and beautiful school building.”
In 1907 Ed Fletcher was appointed a Lieutenant Colonel in the California National Guard. Quickly proving himself a talented entrepreneur, Colonel Fletcher and his business partner William Gross developed the communities on Grossmont and Mount Helix. During his life, he was a driving force behind the road construction and water transportation in East County. In 1934, he was elected California State Senator and served until 1946. In memory of his amazing achievements, several geographic features in East County bear his name.
Merle Donahue - 1929-1962 GHS Choral Director
After arriving at Grossmont in 1929, Merle Donahue quickly became an integral part of the school’s culture, establishing instrumental and vocal music groups and establishing traditions that continue today, such as the Red Robe Choir, the “jewel of the high school’s performing arts department.”
Merle and her colleagues Dorothy Smith and Eva McCarthy Quicksall were instrumental in the creation and evolution of the beloved Christmas Pageant, Grossmont’s gift to the community from 1926 until 1989. Merle’s dedication to the Christmas Pageant began in 1930 when she became Choral Conductor, a role she continued until 1962. The 1962 El Recuerdo acknowledges, “The one hundred and twenty members of the Red Robe Choir, in the Christmas Pageant, all responding to her artistry, make of musical experience a discovery and wonder for everyone.”
The 1957 El Recuerdo dedication to Merle captures her impact on Grossmont by praising her devotion and inspiration: under her “sensitive and precise direction and under the rhythmic pulse of her fingertips, Grossmonters have cherished the fame of their musical triumphs and rewards.”
At the end of Merle Donahue’s career at Grossmont, her knowledge and creativeness had created a vocal department renowned for its high quality of performance. Her impact on her students is exemplified by the lifelong friendships that many had with her after her retirement.
Jim Nichols - 1959-1988 GHS Instrumental Music Director
During his tenure at Grossmont High School, Jim Nichols established an incredible legacy of excellence. The California State Legislature twice commended Jim for his superior bands, a result of Jim’s enthusiasm and dedication to instrumental music.
In 1967, Grossmont High’s Blue and Gold Marching Band won first place out of 281 bands from 40 states in a National Holiday Contest sponsored by Disney. The National Champion band, with a total of 208 students in the band, drill team, and flag corps, performed in 1968 in two shows at the Miami Orange Bowl: the Fireworks Pageant and the NFL Playoff game at the Orange Bowl. At the All-Western Band Review at Long Beach, the largest competitive parade in the West, the band won the Mayor’s Trophy in 1961.
During these years, the bands won 27 Parade and Field Show Sweepstakes, marched in the 1961 Rose Parade, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, 28 Mother Goose Parades. The bands were 11 times Corona, Chaffey, and Vista Tournament of Bands Sweepstakes winners. From 1968-1991, the GHS bands also appeared in 25 SD Charger halftime shows as well as 2 Pro-Bowls. The orchestra, concert and jazz bands received consistent superior ratings at yearly festivals.
In 1998, Jim Nichols was honored by the So. Cal. Band & Orch. Assn. with the Lifetime Gold Award and was the San Diego Youth Symphony’s, as well as San Diego County's, Music Educator of the Year for his lifetime commitment to instrumental music.